When it comes to recruiting, nothing is ever set in stone. Both kids and coaches can change their mind at any given time decommitting, committing, pulling offers, issuing offers, etc. While predicting exactly who will be on the commit list come National Signing Day in February of 2017 is almost impossible, we can still map out what positions Coach Petrino and staff will likely be focusing on and some players who Louisville has a shot at landing at those given positions.
First and foremost, let’s examine who will be graduating in 2016 as well as any current commitments the Cardinals have. Obviously, both lists are likely to change as some players transfer and some current commits may end up elsewhere.
**Note: For discussion purposes, we are going to assume that Louisville will take 25 players in the class of 2017**
Quarterback: Louisville is not expected lose anyone at the quarterback position following the 2016 season, but with 2017 being Kyle Bolin (and potentially Lamar Jackson’s) last year, I think Louisville has their sights set on taking 2 quarterbacks. At this point, I think the most logical choice would be Glades Central FL James Blackman. Blackman has had Louisville atop his list for some time now and I think would fit quite well into the Bobby Petrino system.
My Prediction: James Blackman
Running Back: Louisville loses 2 running backs next year, starter Brandon Radcliff and backup Malin Jones. It appears UofL wants to take 2 or 3 players at this position in 2017, the prime target looks to be 4* running back Colin Wilson. Behind Wilson, things get a lot less clear. Former UK commit Michael Warren appeared to be an almost certain addition to the class but an offer has yet to materialize from the “Light up the Ville” camp (although it still may be on the way). Makel Young is another running back who attended the July 15th camp that we were watching for a commitment and that did not happen as well. Is Louisville holding off on accepting his commitment? It appears so. I would venture to say that there may be new names that emerge at this position as time goes on.
My Prediction: Colin Wilson & Michael Warren
Wide Receiver: Jamari Staples and James Quick will be 2 major losses following the 2016 season. The top 2 targets I would expect to join the 2017 recruiting class would be Corey Reed and Justin Marshall, two big time prospects that have the ability of developing into stars. While Marshall does not have a time frame of when he will decide, a source recently reaffirmed what we have been hearing regarding Louisville being the leader for Corey Reed. I think the Cards can lock up both these ultra talented prospects.
Update: Another name to keep an eye on at the WR position is a teammate of Corey Reed, Jayden Comma. Comma tells me he is planning a trip to Louisville soon and it sounds promising for the Cards.
My Prediction: Corey Reed, Justin Marshall, & Jayden Comma
Tight End: With the current commitment of Kemari Averett and Texas A&M transfer Jordan Davis arriving this fall for camp, I believe the Cards like where they stand at this position.
My Prediction: Complete
Offensive Line: With 4 current commitments in the class of 2017 and only 2 departing players, Louisville is probably comfortable with the class they have at offensive line but one prospect I would keep an eye on would be Howard Watkins. Watkins recently visited Louisville for the July 15th camp and holds a Louisville offer. Besides him, I would expect that if a “big-time” prospect were to emerge later in the process they would find a way to take an additional player, too.
My Prediction: Howard Watkins
Defensive Line: Louisville loses 2 big contributors following the 2016 year in DT DeAngelo Brown and DL Drew Bailey. While Malik Clark is listed as a current commit, I think the staff would like to add a couple of guys that could contribute immediately. One of the biggest names on the list (literally and figuratively) is Tennessee DT Ben Hutch. Hutch has visited Louisville on a couple different occasions and the Cards appear to be on top of his list. We had been hearing very promising information on 4* defensive lineman James Hudson but this seems to have cooled recently. Hudson and Warren appear quite close to each other and it remains to be seen if the lack of a Warren offer to date has deterred Hudson at all. Another prospect to keep an eye on is FL lineman Stephon Zayas. Look for some new names to potentially emerge later in the process at the defensive line position.
My Prediction: Ben Hutch
Linebackers: Possibly 2 of the biggest losses to graduation following the 2016 season will occur at the linebacker position, Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey. Currently the 2017 class holds commitments from 3 linebackers, Kam Jones, Tadarrius Patterson, and Dorian Etheridge. I think the staff is happy with the commitments they do currently have but would be open to taking another at this position if they were an immediate impact type of player.
My Prediction: Complete
Defensive Backs: I will lump both cornerbacks and safeties into the same category since they can be so interchangeable. Louisville is only expected to lose 1 major contributor in the defensive backfield in Josh Harvey-Clemmons. Louisville current has commitments from 5 defensive backs (Rodney Owens, TreSean Smith, Lyn Strange, TJ Jallow, and Anthony Johnson). I believe that the Cards are for the most part done with this position, but 2 names could be possibilities to add: Russ Yeast and Jarell White. Louisville appeared to be in great position to land Yeast but the recent Alabama offer would surely give the talented former UK commit something to think about. White, similar to Warren, came to Louisville’s “Light up the Ville” camp looking for an offer. Sources have indicated that the talented prospect is likely to join the 2017 Louisville class if an offer came his way but at this point it is still a wait and see situation.
My Prediction: Jarell White
Other possibility: DJ Lee. Lee is a talented athlete capable of playing multiple positions and Louisville looks to be in great shape for him, but as of last check there is still uncertainty of which position Louisville likes him at the most. We will continue to monitor his recruitment.
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